Whatever happened to Jordon Ibe?

jordan ibe training with liverpool fc 2014md.faisalzaman from Shrewsbury, MA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The story of Jordon Ibe is one of the rise and unfortunate decline of a football player who was once considered one of the brightest prospects in the English game.

Many observers have talked about a player with great pace, power, intelligence, creativity and directness. However, his career has faltered, and at 28, he is plying his trade in the National League.

How did he come to prominence?

The pacey winger began his career in the youth ranks of Charlton Athletic before joining Wycombe Wanderers at 12.

It was with Wanderers that Ibe made his first-team debut in 2011, aged just 15 years and 244 days, as a substitute in an extra-time Carabao Cup victory over Colchester United.

Ibe made just 11 appearances in all competitions for the Chairboys. However, his performances impressed enough to earn a big move to Liverpool for an undisclosed fee at 16 in December 2011.

What happened next?

Ibe initially joined the Reds under-18 squad. However, the winger made his Liverpool debut in the final game of the 2012/13 season against QPR.

Ibe only made a couple more appearances for Liverpool before joining Championship Birmingham City on loan in February 2014.

He made 11 appearances for the Blues, scoring once, helping the team from the Midlands avoid relegation to the third tier of English football.

In the summer of 2014, he was on the move again, joining Derby County in a loan deal.

The winger made 24 appearances for the Rams in all competitions, scoring five goals before being recalled in January, and spent the second half of the campaign with the Reds.

That should have been the start of a stellar career on Merseyside, as he made 14 appearances for the club until the end of the season but failed to score.  Although he did come very close….

Ibe was even more heavily involved the following season, as he made a total of 41 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, scoring four goals.

At that point, he looked like a rising star, and some expected him to go on and fulfil his potential at Anfield.

Ibe moved to Bournemouth in 2016

To many people’s surprise Ibe left Liverpool to join Bournemouth for £15m in the summer of 2016. At the time, it was a relatively hefty fee for the Cherries to pay for a player.

However, Liverpool didn’t completely give up on the Ibe, as a buy-back clause was inserted into his contract.

Ibe struggled for any sort of consistency during his time with the club from the south coast and failed to find the net in 26 Premier League appearances in his debut campaign.

He made 92 appearances in all for the Cherries, scoring just five goals.

In the summer of 2020, Ibe’s contract expired, and Bournemouth allowed him to walk away as a free agent.

Where next for Ibe?

The winger returned to Derby County, where he had previously had a loan spell, and signed a two-year deal with the Rams.

Ibe made just one appearance for Derby in the 2020/21 season before leaving the club by mutual consent in the summer of 2021.

In January, Ibe did an interview in which he first revealed that he had been suffering from depression, saying he was ‘in a dark place’.

His next move was to Turkey, as he joined second tier Adanaspor in January 2022 after six months without a club. He failed to make an appearance before being released.

Could Ebbsfleet be the new start Jordon Ibe needs?

In October 2023, Jordon Ibe joined National League Ebbsfleet United. At that stage, the winger had been without a club for a year.

On arrival at the club, Ibe told the club’s official website: “I just want to get back out there, show people what I can do again and play football,”

He continued by saying: “I’ve worked hard to be in a position where I am able to focus on football and believe in myself and my ability to contribute on the pitch

Being back out there is where I love to be and where I’m most happy, but I needed to be healthy and prepared to give myself that chance. The way Ebbsfleet have helped me and put a process in place so I can be ready has been really supportive.”

Since his arrival, Ibe has made just three appearances for Ebbsfleet in all competitions. However, there is hope that he can resurrect his career at the National League club.

Ibe’s story shows that footballers are only human, and for all the money that the game brings, it can’t buy happiness or prevent those within the game from suffering mental health issues.

As fans, we don’t know what’s going on in player’s personal lives, which can obviously have a detrimental effect on their performance on the pitch.

At 28 years of age, Ibe still has time to start enjoying football again. More importantly, hopefully, Jordon is in a good place with his mental well-being.

Can Jordon Ibe resurrect his football career at Ebbsfleet United?